Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pitch May Be Artificial but the Benefits Are Real

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pitch May Be Artificial but the Benefits Are Real

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports writer

NEWCASTLE Falcons yesterday took possession of their new plastic pitch, hosting an open training session for the media at Kingston Park.

The third-generation artificial rugby turf surface marks an end to seasons of battling against the mud at the Aviva Premiership's most northerly venue, with Newcastle set to host Rotherham a week on Saturday in their first match on the new pitch.

Managing director Mick Hogan said: "Consistency is the main thing, and this surface should play very similarly in the depths of winter to how it does at the beginning of September.

"It means that when fans turn up they know the weather and the state of the pitch is not going to be a massive factor in how the games pan out, and everyone saw what things were like last season.

"Some of the games at Kingston Park were wars of attrition. They were proper players' games which might be highly enjoyable for some people to play in, but they were not the greatest to watch. This new pitch just takes that out of the equation, and gives us one less thing to worry about."

With barriers having already been broken down thanks to other clubs, Hogan added: "There is not the same uncertainty and mystique now that there once was with artificial pitches, with people like Saracens, Cardiff Blues and Widnes rugby league having played on them for a couple of years now.

"We have had a similar surface for training at Druid Park for seven years now, and all the players here have been on that many times.

"The concept is not new any more, and they have got better. We think the one that we have now is the best in Europe, and you always think that when you buy the latest version of anything."

Newcastle's new pitch has tied in with strong season ticket sales ahead of the new campaign, Hogan revealing: "We have just gone past 2,200, which is our highest total for five seasons, and we hope to be past the 2,500 mark by the time the season starts. …

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